Vegas on a Student’s Budget

Back while the husband and I were engaged, we would constantly joke about skipping all the wedding stress by taking a quick trip to Vegas. We never did elope in Vegas, but we recently ended up spontaneously road tripping to Vegas during a three day weekend.

Here are some of our tips and tricks to touring Vegas on a student’s budget.

Free Parking

As of January 2019, these places offer free self-parking (valet parking generally has a fee) on the strip:

  • SLS Vegas
  • Circus Circus
  • Fashion Show Mall
  • Treasure Island Hotel and Casino
  • Venetian/Palazzo Hotel and Casino
  • Planet Hollywood
  • Tropicana Hotel and Casino

Free parking a short walk from the strip:

  • Ellis Island
  • Hard Rock
  • Royal Resort
  • Trump Tower
  • Westin

Other places generally offer free parking for the first hour and then charge $6-$12 for each additional hour.

Free Activities

  • Walk the strip. To be honest, this is what we spent most of our day doing. It’s a long walk, and there’s a lot to see.
  • Circus Circus has free Circus Acts going on through out the day. The first act of the day is at 11:30 am. On weekdays the last one is at 10:30pm, on Fridays 11:30 pm, and weekends 12:30 am. Read more about it and get the weekly program here.
  • Bellagio Fountains. Very fun water show that happens every half hour from about noon – 8pm on Saturdays and holidays, 11 am – 7pm on Sundays, and 3 pm – 8 pm Monday – Friday. After 8 pm they show every 15 minutes. Read more about it and get the full schedule here.
  • M&M World store & 3D movie. The store might be overpriced, but hey, it’s 4 floors of chocolate you can explore, and the 3D movie is free.
  • Speaking of chocolate, you can take a free self-guided tour of Ethel M. Chocolate Factory. Read more about that here.
  • Mirage’s volcano erupts at 8pm, 9pm, and 10 pm. Read more about it here.
  • If you walk around the various hotels, you can sometimes stumble upon other free shows or attractions, and they’ll usually have times posted.

Paid (but worth it) Activities

  • Red Rock Canyon. Technically, this is outside of the Vegas Strip. It’s about a half-hour drive away, and it’s well worth the trip. When we went on MLK day, entry was free. Generally though, it’s $15 per car, $10 for motorcycles, $5 for pedestrians. We were short on time, so we just drove around the loop and got out to walk around at a few of the look out points. We did see though that there were a lot of good hikes if you have more time!
  • We splurged a little on tickets to the Variety Show that night. They were about $40 each. We bought our tickets for half price from a tix4tonight booth. We recommend hitting one of these booths in the morning or when you first get to Vegas to see what’s available. They sell discounted tickets to shows they are trying to fill up for the day. They have various booths along the strip, and they can be found if you type tix4tonight on Google Maps. You can also check out their website here. We chose the Variety Show to get a wide range of (family friendly) Vegas shows. This show generally has jugglers, comedy acts, a magician, and aerobatics. WOW-the Vegas Spectacular is also recommend if you’re not sure which show you want to go to. Like the Variety Show, it has several acts, but this show tends to feature more acrobatics.

Cheap Eats

  • We went to Tacos el Gordo and loved it. It’s on the strip, and it’s open 10am – 5 am. The tacos are $2.00 each, quesadillas are $4.00, and drinks $1.40 each with free refills (including horchata!). We got three tacos each, and they filled us up.
  • Mr. Mamas is the top rated cheap eat on TripAdvisor. It’s not on the strip, so we didn’t have time to go there, but it has good reviews! Mostly serves breakfast foods.

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